Nothing should feel thin after a good Thanksgiving meal — especially not your wallet. However, the traditional Thanksgiving meal can cost an average of $48, according to the Indiana Farm Bureau. This is $3 down from the cost of Thanksgiving in 2012, but for a college student this could lead to a negative bank account balance.

Here are six parts of the traditional holiday recipes with the minimal pricing so you can still have use for those post-Thanksgiving-dinner stretchy pants without being broke.


4 ground turkey patties – $3.99
1 pound of pre-cooked microwaveable turkey with gravy – $6.56
An average sized turkey – $30

None of these options are a bad choice taste—wise, but based on its uses and tradition, I have to say go with the whole turkey here. If you can find smaller one, it won’t be quite $30. After you’re done with your meal, you can use leftover turkey in a number of ways, and it will last you a long time.


5 servings of premade mashed potatoes – $3
50 serving box of instant potato flakes – $3.59
10-pound bag of potatoes – $3.99

Instant potato flakes are the winner. They taste just as good as boiled potatoes, and you don’t have to pass up a price that is roughly 7 cents a serving.

Cranberry sauce/salad

4 servings of deli cranberry salad – $2.99
5.5 servings of canned cranberry sauce – 99 cents

I’d go with the can here. It’s cheap, and I don’t know anyone that’s going to pass up a can-shaped glob of cranberry sauce.


This one is easy. I recommend Stove Top brand stuffing. You just have to add water and follow the directions on the box. The only alternative I could come up with is homemade and that’s way too much work and ingredients.


6 servings of gravy in a jar – 79 cents
A packet of gravy mix that makes 4 servings – $1.69

Mostly because I think a packet mix that you only add water to just doesn’t sound right, I’m going to go with the jar of gravy. I’ve had it before and it is good. You can’t beat a sale of 79 cents.

Pumpkin pie

12 servings of pumpkin pie ice cream – $2.99
8 servings frozen – $4.99
8 servings bakery – $6.99

If I were to give you my honest recommendation here, I think it would be the frozen pie with a side of ice cream. As with the turkey, for tradition’s sake, I have to say at least get the frozen pie. The ice cream is good, but nothing beats the real thing.

An added bonus

Some of you out there may be thinking to yourselves, “Well this is still too expensive.”

The winner for cheapest Thanksgiving meal is the Hungry Man Turkey TV dinner. It comes with sliced turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, cranberry sauce, stuffing and mixed veggies. All of these wonderful shrink-wrapped foods can be yours for the price of $2.99 a dinner. Real, traditional food just can’t compete with that price, right?